Commissioner of Police Michael Matthews is urging the government to update the necessary legislation that would result in faster operations in critical areas of the Royal Virgin Islands Police Force (RVIPF).
Matthews made the call at the official reopening ceremony of the West End Police Station on Thursday, August 15.
He said: “We still feel frustration in the public service. Colleagues sitting here will agree with me cause sometimes we can’t get through some of the blockades to get things done as quickly as we would want to. And that’s not about people being difficult or awkward, that’s about practices and procedures that may be outdated now. Maybe it’s time in 2019-2020 to revisit some of our procedures to see if there are ways that we can do things quicker as long as they are legal, as long as they have integrity, and as long as they are transparent to speed up some of the processes.”
Merging of entities strengthens criminal justice system
With the West End-based station now refurbished, Matthews said it now symbolises another step towards ensuring the BVI has an efficient policing strategy and an effective criminal justice system.
“Not only do we intend to base additional officers here as well as Customs and Immigration officers, we also intend to equip the station so that persons who are detained by officers can be questioned here properly according to the law,” Matthews said.
[They can be] necessarily be detained here as well; rather than shipping everybody back to Road Town Police Station with the obvious inconvenience and risk that that brings with it,” the top cop stated.
He also said the Cane Garden Police Station will continue to remain open as the RVIPF has recognized that two stations are needed in the western section of Tortola.
Symbolism of the West End Police Station
Premier Andrew Fahie, who was one of the first to call for the urgent reopening of the facility when he served as Opposition Leader, spoke on the significance of the West End Police Station in the First District — the constituency he represents.
The Premier described the station as the ‘centre of consolidation’ for the western communities, especially after the hurricanes.
“I am, [therefore], asking every citizen to discipline themselves. Once you discipline yourself, then the police work will be limited,” Fahie said.
Investment by the UK goes deeper than providing security
Governor Augustus Jaspert, who has responsibility for the territory’s constabulary, said the $1.68 million investment in policing by the United Kingdom is about a partnership with the BVI that goes beyond just caring for security.
He said it’s also about caring for the territory and its people and ensuring they are able to progress and achieve in the society.
“This police station has been repaired by the United Kingdom — a gift from the UK taxpayers to BVI which is also repairing the Jost Van Dyke police station, Customs and Immigration building and helping to repair the Virgin Gorda police barracks as well as already repairs to the Road Town police station which has already been completed,” Governor Jaspert stated.
Second reopening in four years
The West End Police Station has now undergone two reopenings in the last four years with the first being in 2015 after undergoing renovations for nine months.
Following the 2017 hurricanes which cause considerable damage to the facility, the station had to undergo extensive repairs and saw many proposed reopening dates by the previous NDP government.